Exciting evening of noise and rhythm in a new addition to Oakland’s vibrant live music scene
It’s hard to find a more jarring juxtaposition of talents and roles than those that Oakland-born hip-hop star Daveed Diggs has possessed as of late. After half a decade building a steady underground following as the MC of noise trio clipping., he became a household name after taking on the role of Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson in the original production (and first Broadway run) of the massive hit musical Hamilton. Finishing his theatrical run in mid-2016, Diggs hurtled right back into his work with the experimental outfit, knocking out two releases in the latter half of the year and continuing a heavy schedule of touring. The group’s Noise Pop gig at Oakland’s young-but-blossoming Starline Social Club was one of the first in the festival to sell out, and even with three openers on the bill and a long, rainy night to greet them at the end of it, rabid fans of the three-piece packed the walls of the bright ballroom and celebrated the return of their heroes, in the hometown of the man at their helm.
The acts selected to kick off the evening were themselves a great balance of everything to come in clipping.’s set. 93 Bulls opened with some brilliant rhymes from MC Cool Calm Chrys, who traded stories and quips with the excited crowd as they sidled up to the small stage to watch the show begin. The headliners themselves were preceded by the Lancaster-based Baseck (Derrick Estrada), who blasted out a furious set of unrelenting drum&bass, noisy analog synths, and thundering drops that danced alongside his gatling-gun-style snares. The only questionable addition was middle act DJ Marco De La Vega, who split the openers with a long set of chill, downtempo beats that felt like it lasted far longer than was necessary. (The stage crew seemed to think so, as well, as De La Vega’s set came to an abrupt end when he was shouted at to finish after apparently going quite a bit past his end time!)
After a long period of continued blasts of industrial and electronic fury, Baseck was joined by William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes, the two men that make up the sonic backbone of clipping., and the three continued wrestling a patchwork of aural mayhem into existence as the music transitioned seamlessly from one act to the other. An eruption of cheers and shouts heralded the arrival of Diggs, who greeted the crowd briefly before picking up his mic and launching himself into the set at a breakneck pace. Bouncing from end to end of the stage, waving in time to the rhythm, and exchanging both bright grins and playfully-exasperated sighs at his onlookers, Diggs was firmly in his element, and declared himself overjoyed to be home once again.
The lines between songs were blurred nearly to the point of absence; calls inviting the audience to chant along or shout in rhythm happened mid-piece as much as they did after Diggs took a breather, and one sonic miasma would give birth to another with what felt like the smallest bit of effort. The only moment of pause was given at the end of the show, when every single wave of sound was extinguished as Diggs called for a moment of silence to remember the victims of the Ghost Ship fire. The silence, the hurt, the sense of loss in the room was every bit as palpable as the crushing waves of static and glitchy feedback that had driven the show (and picked up a few moments later) — for many, it was the loudest minute of the entire performance.
This was a show for the artists, the undiscovered youth, the makers both wild and calm; after the show, fans greeted the musicians clutching original paintings, poems, and other creations — inspired by the powerful sounds that had dominated their home stereos, and the speakers of the Starline Social Club for the last few hours. clipping. is a tour de force to behold as a listener, and the blistering delivery of Diggs’ rapping cuts through the tidal wave of white noise and shrieking electronics magnificently — but at no point did the band blockade the fourth wall between them and the audience. This was a show as brutally loud as it was wonderfully intimate, and made an excellent start to the weekend for Noise Pop’s 25th Anniversary.
- Inside Out
- Or Die
- The Breach
- Wake Up
- True Believer
- Air ‘Em Out
- Break the Glass
- Baby Don’t Sleep
- A Better Place
- Taking Off
- Bout.That (with Baseck)
- Work Work (with Baseck)
- Body & Blood
Additional photos from the show below. All photos are © 2017 Jonathan Pirro.